The smaller string allows for a tighter sweet spot. Lightweight design allows players to swing harder and faster. The head and handle are balanced really well. The grip is comfortable and helps absorb shock.
The smaller strings make it hard for beginners to get a good hit.
Offers big bounce and power for beginners learning the game. Durable alloy construction lasts over time. Head-light design gives players more control. Terrific value for the price.
Heavy racquet may tire out some arms. Players who develop quickly may want to upgrade.
Lightweight design allows users to get technique down without hurting their arms. Entire racquet can withstand big hits with minimal vibrations. Oversize head makes the ball easier to hit.
Some users felt that the racquet lacked power.
Built with dampening technology that allows the racquet to be stable after heavy hits. Has a thinner shaft that is easy to hold and maintain control of. The strings allow for better ball control.
Can be a bit heavy for newcomers to the sport.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Squash racquets have come a long way since the original combination of laminated wooden strips and natural gut strings. Today you have a much wider choice, including a variety of aluminum or high-tech composite frames and synthetic fibers.
The BestReviews team has put a selection of modern squash racquets to the test. As a result, we're able to recommend a number of different models that can help improve the game of players at different levels and with different budgets. For those who'd like to delve into design, materials, and construction in more detail, we've put together the following squash racquet buyer's guide.
When choosing a squash racquet, you'll want to consider the following areas: head shape and type, weight, balance, and stringing.
Squash racquet heads come in a few different shapes and two distinct types: open throat and closed throat.
Shape: The different racquet head shapes include oval, squared (oval with visibly squared-off “corners”), and teardrop. As with any sport, manufacturers are always looking to help players develop more power and better control, so head shapes continue to evolve. The elongated teardrop is now favored by many players for its ability to offer a good balance of both power and control.
Open throat: On these racquets, the frame runs in an uninterrupted loop down into the handle, and the strings also reach that far. These heads tend to be narrower, with short horizontal strings that provide more control and feedback. However, you need to be an intermediate or advanced player to really benefit from this type of racquet.
Closed throat: On these racquets, the frame is closed off by a crossbeam, and the strings are consequently shorter. The head is wider than on open throat racquets. The horizontal strings are longer, and the vertical strings have more support. This leads to a larger sweet spot and makes it easier to deliver power shots. The closed throat is usually recommended for beginners.
Aluminum, generally considered a light material, is actually quite heavy when compared to modern composites of carbon, graphite, titanium, and other compounds developed by racquet manufacturers. While a lightweight racquet is preferred by professionals, there are pros and cons. The following is a guide to weights and skill levels:
150 grams and more: This weight is for beginners, though coaches are divided. Some suggest a heavy racquet helps build up arm strength quickly. It's also likely to be pretty durable – when you're learning, you’ll often hit the walls and floor hard! The drawback is that many of the skills specific to squash are difficult to learn with a heavy racquet. You're movements are slower and you have less mobility.
130 to 140 grams: These racquets are the intermediate/all-rounder weight, offering an excellent compromise between strength and maneuverability. This is the most popular weight of squash racquet, and the choice is enormous. Many players will never need anything else.
125 grams and under: This weight racquet is for highly skilled amateurs or pros. The light weight allows the full array of shots to be played, but you need superb arm strength because there's very little momentum generated by the racquet itself. Additionally, these frames are thin, so they’re easier to break, and made of the most exotic materials, so they're also more expensive to replace!
Squash racquets are categorized by three points of balance: head heavy, even, and head light.
Head heavy: This type of racquet requires less effort to generate power and therefore is recommended for beginners.
Even: This racquet is the intermediate choice.
Head light: These racquets offer tremendous dexterity and the ability to generate great racquet head speed, but only if you have a high level of skill.
Number: String patterns are given as the number of vertical (upright) strings by the number of horizontal strings: for example, 14 by 18. As a general rule, the more strings, the easier it is to deliver power and the less likely it is you'll miss your shot.
Shape: String pattern is usually rectangular or square, but there are fan shapes, too. There's great debate among coaches we consulted about the supposed benefits of the latter. It's probably an area that will undergo further experimentation. Our suggestion for starter and intermediate players is to stick with what you know works.
Tension: Squash racquets usually arrive pre-strung by the factory, and with budget racquets the string is often of poor quality. If you know someone who can restring it cheaply, it's well worth considering. However, be careful. If the frame isn't designed for higher tension, you could end up distorting the racquet. Intermediate or better players might want to experiment with varying tension and/or using different strings because they have enough skill to notice if it has an impact on their game.
In the course of our research, we came across some impressive jargon, such as “cushion control technology,” “biomimetics,” and “inner muscle system.” There are also claims that such-and-such generates 20% more power or is 15% more rigid.
A good proportion of this is marketing hype. That's not to say that they aren't improvements, but they're likely only measurable under laboratory conditions or when the racquet is used by an elite squash player.
If you're new to the sport, or looking to improve, you need to focus on the basics available within your budget and not clever advertising.
Inexpensive: You'll occasionally see squash racquets for $20 or $30, and if you're only going to play the occasional game for a bit of fun, they're fine. The same goes for squash racquet sets that are available for around $60 to $80. These are ideal if you and your partner want to try the sport out, or if your usual game is badminton or tennis and you fancy a change from time to time.
Mid-range: If you're going to get a little more serious, a single racquet will cost as much as an inexpensive set: $60 to $80. If you're looking to move up from beginner to intermediate, you'll need to pay between $80 and $120. We're now almost invariably in the realm of “more is better.”
Expensive: Experienced players who feel a new racquet is one of the best ways to improve their game will want to look at lightweight options. These are likely to cost $140 and more, though even the very best racquets seldom exceed $200.
Choose your squash balls carefully. Not all squash balls are the same. In fact the difference between a beginner's and a pro’s squash ball is so great that if you're new to the game, you’d find it nearly impossible to play with the latter.
Note the dot. All squash balls are marked with a small colored dot (blue, red, orange, green, white, yellow, and double yellow). The blue dot ball has the most bounce, making it the easiest to play with. As you progress through the colors, the balls become less responsive, which means you have to be faster and more agile to keep them moving. Yellow is as high as most good club players use regularly. Double yellow is for experts and professionals.
Protect your eyes. A squash ball can travel at 100 miles per hour or more, so many players wear special eyewear. It's light, unobtrusive, and inexpensive, but it still provides good eye protection.
If you're not sure whether squash is going to be your thing, the Python Racquetball SquashGalaxy Intro 5000 Racquet is a way to try the game at negligible cost. It's a durable, budget-friendly model for those who are unlikely to go beyond the occasional match. The Dunlop Squash Court Pack is also aimed at players with little experience, though probably those who intend to play regularly. It's a quality racquet from a brand with an excellent reputation, and the eye protection is a welcome addition. We're not keen on the case with it's clear plastic front, and the yellow dot squash balls are not really for beginners, but it still represents a good value. So does the Pro Impact Graphite Squash Racket. It's light, strong, and the open design is intended to improve your power. A good choice for fast learners and intermediates.
Q. Why do squash balls need to be warmed up before a game?
A. A room temperature squash ball is surprisingly lifeless. Even blue dot beginners’ balls will hardly bounce at all. Warming them up makes them much more lively. You don't generate enough warmth with your hands to heat them up sufficiently, so usually this is done by hitting them up and down the court a few minutes. It'll do a good job of warming you up, too! Individual squash ball warmers are available, and some clubs provide wall-mounted devices that you can use while waiting for your court.
Q. Can I wear regular athletic shoes, or is it better to buy squash shoes?
A. It's definitely a good idea to buy squash shoes. Ordinary trainers are OK to get you started, but they aren't really designed for the sharp turns and hard acceleration required in squash. Tennis shoes have a very different structure and aren't really suitable at all. You can use badminton or other “indoor court” shoes, but, as with every other sport, you'll always get the best performance by having equipment that’s specific to your sport. Additionally, some clubs insist that your footwear have soles that won’t mark the court surface.
Q. When was squash invented?
A. Around 1830, at the exclusive Harrow School in the United Kingdom. It happened by accident. They were playing racquets (a similar game believed to have been played since the 1700s) when somebody punctured the ball. The "squashed" version had more variable bounce and required more skill, and the game, originally called “squash racquets,” soon caught on.